Jan 20, 2012

Daniel in the Lion's Den - Exodus Leader Comes Clean

SYDNEY, Australia, Jan 20. Time, reality and commonsense continues to erode the credibility of long-held beliefs within some religious organisations that they possess a kind of sexual orientation magic wand, according to respected LGBT affairs commentator, Anthony Venn-Brown.

So convinced are they with the outcomes of their smoke and mirrors routine that a new category of ‘ex-gay’ has been established for those ‘successfully’ processed!

Venn-Brown said two key recent events have sent shock waves through the evangelical, ex-gay and gay Christian worlds.

In December 2011 Christian World Magazine named Alan Chambers, director of Exodus (the world’s largest ex-gay organisation), Daniel of the Year in recognition of his stand against homosexuality.  

The unthinkable happened last week, when Chambers appeared on a panel along with three former ex-gay leaders at a gay Christian conference and admitted that no-one he knew had changed their sexual orientation.

Chambers told the Los Angeles Times in 2007 that “by no means would we ever say change can be sudden or complete," adding that he was uncomfortable with the term 'ex-gay' as he didn’t believe he’d ever met one.

But his latest bombshell came during hot-off-the-press panel chit chat.

“The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation,” Chambers told the conference.

Venn-Brown, an ‘ex-gay’ “survivor” who has become a widely respected authority on the ;ex-gay’ movement, said Chambers’ comments only serve to accelerate the crumbling credibility of the ‘change is possible’ message preached for decades by groups like Exodus.

“It’s been a slow evolution over nearly four decades,” Venn-Brown said.

“There have been three main phases the ex-gay movement has evolved through. First it preached the supernatural miracle of gay to straight, then it went into a therapeutic model and the last phase has been to give people the option of celibacy or being in a heterosexual marriage; knowing there is always the potential to ‘fall’.”  Venn-Brown said.

He said Chambers’ honest admission is what many had been hoping for, but it just wasn’t enough.

“We want groups like Exodus to either completely redefine themselves or cease to exist. But no one jumps overnight from anti-gay to gay affirming. It can take years,” Venn-Brown said.

“We have seen many ex-gay leaders both overseas and in Australia come out and some have apologized for their past involvement.”

The most recent figure to take this momentous step was John Smid, the former head of the ‘ex-gay’ residential program, ‘Love in Action’.

Venn-Brown said it had taken years for John to come to a place of honesty and admit publicly he was gay, even though in a straight marriage.

“I do feel that Alan Chambers is on a similar journey behind the scenes. He just can’t admit it publicly at the moment. Only time will tell”. Venn-Brown added.

“We wait for the day when Alan, like so many of us, no longer sees his same sex orientation as something evil, dysfunctional or unhealthy and begins to live authentically”.

“In the meantime though, sadly individuals, families and marriages will be harmed by the false hope these groups have proclaimed.”

“As any person involved in gay rights knows; some things are inevitable. The decline and eventual non-existence of these groups is one of those.”

The question is, what can we do to hasten the day?” Venn-Brown concluded.

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Anthony Venn-Brown is a founder of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds and is currently director of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International. He is an educator, consultant and commentator on LGBT/faith issues and been a leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony’s journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s mega-churches to living as an openly gay man is detailed in his autobiography 'A Life of Unlearning'... Anthony has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009) and was one of four finalists for the 2011 ACON Community Hero Award.

If you feel that you are tormented by uwanted same-sex attraction then the answer lies in loving and accepting your true self not rejecting or self loathing. The term 'unwanted same-sex attraction' adds to the denial. It is not an attraction it is an orientation. It is far deeper than just an attraction or behaviour and is a part of your brain wiring, thought processes, hormones and behaviour. People nedd to examine the 'unwanted' part of the statement not the orientation itself.

Before you invest the time, money, emotional energy and possibly years of your life trying to go from gay to straight, ask the ex-gay leaders what guarantee they can give you that it will work. If they are honest with you, the best they will be able to offer you as a degree of ‘heterosexual functionality’, but the gay never actually goes away. Then ask yourself what would be the best way to spend your time, money and emotional energy…..rejecting yourself or accepting yourself.

After 22 years of trying to change including ex-gay programs, exorcisms and 16 years of marriage, I came to the realisation that loving myself was far healthier than hating and rejecting my true self. Like 1,000’s of others today, I finally discovered that I can live a wonderfully fulfilling, moral life as an openly gay man and still have my faith.
Anthony Venn-Brown

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